Ok lets take a little detour from Whiskey and discuss Vodka for a little bit. Vodka is grain neutral spirits, or just plain alcohol. It is not aged or put in a barrel or anything else. The cheaper ones are either barely filtered or not filtered at all and thats why they taste like rubbing alcohol. The middle grade and uppershelf ones are filtered. So for the most part the difference between a crappy bottle of vodka and a good one is how many time and how well it is filtered to remove all the impurities which makes it taste much better. Now if you are going to mix it with juice or most anything then it really doesnt matter which brand you choose. If you drink that most American of inventions, the Vodka Martini, then you want something that tastes good. Some are Grey Goose, Three Olives, Absolute, and several others. If you are paying over 30$ a bottle chances are its highly filtered. I recently read a book about the marketing and introduction of Absolute Vokda and it was most entertaining talking about the shape of the bottle was poo-pooed because "they" said that it looked like a plasma bottle. In fact when they were trying to sell it to the ad agencies in New York City, they couldn't even bring the actual vodka into the country and it was sold mostly on the bottle. It took a while but they did it. The book also said that it costs about 12 cents to make a liter of any brand of vodka. All the rest is profit.
Nice gig if you can get it. I do like Grey Goose, its rated 96 on the taste scale of 1-100 while Absolute is rated only 86 but honestly I can drink both in my martini.
For a good vodka martini you need good olives so use the Giant Spanish Queens and I recommend 3 of them in your martini and a cap full or slightly less of dry vermouth for what I consider the perfect vodka martini. You can experiment with other types of olives, stuffed with almonds, stuffed with pearl onions, stuffed with jalepeno, or other exotic items but I prefer the plain old pimento stuffing in mine. If you are just going to have a screwdriver (vokda and orange juice) or a bloody mary (vodka and tomato juice or V8, or BM mix) then just buy cheap vodka, there is no need to waste money on expensive really good tasting vodka just to mix it up with a mix. If you are having a Vodka martini then by all means at least buy something middle shelf or above. I prefer mine on the rocks. I dont drink gin ever since I got sick on it back in high school. The smell of juniper berries is enough to have me reaching for the tums even now.
But with all drinks its important you drink what you like no matter what the price is and no matter the hype. After all its pretty amazing they got us to pay 30-50$ a bottle for something that costs 12 cents to make isnt it? Its hype and good filtering that makes a good vodka.
Oh yes, there are still a few made from potatos and try it and if you like it by all means drink it.
But most is simply grain neutral spirits. Experiment and find what you like and stock up.
Remember one martini is never enough and two is usually too many so as always use caution and obey the law.